BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – Another civil rights activist joined the family of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, prompting pushback in the courtroom Monday.
Judge Timothy Walmsley called defense attorney Kevin Gough’s words “reprehensible” as he tried to have Rev. Jesse Jackson removed from the courtroom.
Gough, representing William “Roddie” Bryan, one of the three men accused in Arbery’s murder, also tried to bar Rev. Al Sharpton from sitting with the family last week.
“The seats in the public gallery of a courtroom are not like courtside seats at a Lakers game,” Gough said.
“We are concerned about whether it’s conscious or unconscious, the impact of their presence, in respect to the jury and with respect to the proceedings in this case,” he added.
Gough again motioned for a mistrial and was joined by two other attorneys representing Greg and Travis McMichael, the father and son also charged in Arbery’s death.
But Walmsley reiterated his policy that the public is welcome as long as they don’t disrupt proceedings.
“Mr. Gough, at this point I’m not exactly sure what you’re doing,” the judge said. “I have already ruled on this court’s position in regard to the gallery.”
Walmsley warned the attorneys their own statements may have lured some high-profile figures to the courthouse.
Outside of the courthouse, activists say they aren’t backing down.
“We have the right of peaceful assembly. We have the right of freedom of expression,” said Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition.
“The reality of it is this is diversion,” said Jackson. “He has no constitutional right to determine who’s in court. I’m a good citizen with a constitutional right and moral obligation.”
The reverend said he’s a healer, here to lift up the Arbery family as they go through the trial.
“Emmett Till, one juror could have cast the whole thing. That’s true here, too,” he said. “So the jury is important that they hear good information.”
In response to Gough’s comments, activists are planning to bring 100 Black pastors to Brunswick Thursday, including Sharpton and Jackson.
On Monday, jurors heard testimony from officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, plus one of the Arbery’s neighbors. The jury also saw more cell phone video from Arbery’s killing and the shotgun that was used to shoot him.
Bryan and the McMichaels are charged with murder and other crimes.
Prosecutors say they chased Arbery for five minutes to keep him from exiting the Satilla Shores neighborhood.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar.